There are two safe ways to thaw your frozen holiday turkey. One way is to thaw in the refrigerator, in the original wrapper and placed in a pan or bowl to catch the juices as it thaws. Depending on how much the turkey weighs will help gauge how long it will take to thaw. You can use this as a guideline to estimate how much time is needed for the turkey to thaw. If the turkey is 4 to 12 pounds, it will take between 1 and 3 days. If it is 12 to 16 pounds, plan on about 3 to 4 days. A turkey that weighs between 16 and 20 pounds, 4 to 5 days and for the big monster turkeys that weigh between 20 and 24 pounds, plan on 5 to 6 days.
Another safe way to thaw frozen turkeys is to place the unwrapped bird in cold water. Be sure it is wrapped securely as the turkey will be submerged in cold water, with a need for changing the water every 30 minutes. Here is a guideline to estimate how much time you will need to thaw the frozen turkey. If the turkey is 4 to 12 pounds, it will take about 2 to 6 hours. For turkeys 12 to 16 pounds, plan for thawing time to be about 6 to 8 hours. Turkeys that weigh between 16 and 20 pounds, this should take about 8 to 10 hours thawing time, and big birds that range from 20 to 24 pounds, give about 10 to 12 hours to become thawed and ready to cook.
Be sure to cook the turkey as soon as it is thawed.
For additional help with cooking a turkey, you can call the turkey hotline at Butterball, at 1-800-288-8372 or go online at http://www.butterball.com/.